Taking Leaps

As previously mentioned, I spoke this past week at the Multisport Madness Youth Triathlon Team end of season banquet. I got to talk to a whole bunch of triathlon minded kids about the sport I love so much. These kids were experts, they had been to national championships, some of them had won national titles. I was so impressed and inspired by the love and passion and natural ease these kids had.

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As I was prepping for my speech I really had to do some introspection. I mainly was thinking about when I was young and what stopped me from realizing my potential. Why did it take until after I had Annie (which granted was pretty young) to get a kick in the butt to go chase my dreams?

I don’t really know.

But I do remember how concerned I was for so many years with what others though about my actions, and what others thought about me. I was afraid when I would decide to do something or not do something. I recognize NOW that I often thought about how others would view those decisions…and not in a good way.

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Now having had some success in sport, and life, and coaching others I have a unique vantage point to look back. I can look in the rear view mirror and look for trends that enabled me to succeed.

When I did that, the biggest overarching theme I could come up with was TAKING RISKS. Every time I have had success in this sport it came on the coat tails of taking what I saw as a big risk. When I have been down in the dumps and performing poorly, it’s come from me being risk adverse, and choosing to remain in my comfort zone, or it was because I was making decisions based on my fear of other peoples opinions.

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Taking risks requires confidence. You have to be okay with putting aside what others think about you and your actions. I heard a quote a few years back that really stuck with me.

What other people think of me is none of my business.  —Wayne Dyer

People are going to judge your actions, because they are trying to learn from the world just like you. Don’t take it personally, we are each on our own path, always leading to different places. Take the risk to do things  your own way. Aim to forge your own path, built on the mistakes and lessons learned from your past, not other peoples.

Also looking back I understood that pain is involved. I seem to handle physical pain pretty well. I can run with blisters, and my muscles screaming. I can tell my legs to shut up and most the time I can do it with a smile. But whereas I am bomber with physical pain, I struggle with emotional pain. Past experiences effect me deeply and I struggle to move past previous emotional pain. Letting go of negative experiences has been a trigger to my success in sport, life, and coaching.

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.                   —John Holmes

Relentless positivity is a work in progress for me, but when I am successful at it, my accomplishments seem to turn wicked positive! I have to chase the fun. If I am enjoying the process, and stepping out of my comfort zone, I am in the pocket.

I talked to the Multisport Madness kids about an Ah-hah I had. I have realized that when I am scared of something, I must go more in that direction. When my body or my mind fears a situation, a light bulb goes off. Progress towards my goals is made when I don’t hesitate, I don’t question, I just sense the fear, and move in a direction straight towards the source of my angst.

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When I was in Hawaii I went cliff jumping on one of my last days there. I remember stepping up to the cliff, to this little ledge and feeling the fear. It was tangible, that breathless feeling. My heart was racing and I could feel that paralyzing feeling while my brain tried to catch up with the fear. Before it could catch up, and not 3 seconds after I started to feel it, I jumped.

I don’t remember what it looked like on the way down, or how the water felt when I hit. I remember most of my bikini ending up in places it wasn’t meant to be. The feeling I mostly felt was satisfaction because I could look at the fear, not hesitate, and go for it.

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The exact way I hope to live my life going forward.

Kona 2013 Run


I get out and running and the first thing you do is run up one block of Palani. It’s a hill. Everyone always forgets but it can pack a punch. There are a lot of people around cheering and I just wanted to soak it in and slow down. Coach and I had a plan and it involved running 8 min pace down Ali’i. I was trying so hard to slow down, consciously slowing down, but it still didn’t happen.

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Mile 1-3: 7:38, 7:48, 7:45

Right at mile 1 Mikki and Mo, my two athletes were there and they went BALLISTIC cheering like crazy. I gave them a big smile and a “simmer down” gesture. I noticed they had laid out a pair of run shorts all nicely for me just in case. Thankfully, my tummy was a happy camper. There are so many spectators to be conscious of in those first several miles, and then add in the multitude of runners, it’s more of a logistical situation until everyone simmers down.

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As I progressed down Ali’i I got passed by some girls and I passed some girls. I didn’t worry about it at all. I just let them do their race and I did mine. One girl was kinda going back and forth with me. She was looking great but I had to put her out of my mind and just do my thing.

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Miles 4,5: 7:49, 7:50

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I hit the turn on Ali’i feeling really in control. Coach and Jim we riding their bikes around the course so I was seeing a lot of them. Mostly I watched them ride way up ahead chatting each others ears off with barely a glance back. This made me laugh inside, business as normal.

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On the way back from the turn on Ali’i I was hot and going through the liquid in my Fuel Belt pretty quickly. It was gone by mile 8 or so, so I tossed it to Jim at an aid station. I felt the most in control during these miles and just tried to stay in my happy land.

I passed my family in here, mom told me I was 5th off the bike. Same as last year I thought, but in a much better place mentally. I knew I had been passed by a few ladies in my AG thus far, but it’s a long day.

I heard Troy cheering but something sounded weird. Usually he’s right there on the line and as I pass I look over and see Annie totally passed out in his arms. Poor muchkin had been having so much fun in the days leading up, that she took a several hour nap on that wall on race day. Ann napped as well, apparently in a beach chair, with many people taking her photo. Hilarious.

Miles 6-10: 7:58, 7:48, 8:06, 7:59, 8:08

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I had talked to my parents and Troy before hand, and one thing I didn’t want was to see them on Palani. Last year Palani was where I lost my marbles and this year I just wanted to run up that hill like it was any other hill on the course. No drama, just run up Palani, keep in control and move on.

So when I got there I did just that. nice and steady, head down, chug chug chug. I tried to keep my form strong, and just get it done.

Mile 11: 8:43palani

(Meanwhile…back on Ali’i)

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Onto the Queen K…

Now the race begins. All the people are gone, although Jim and Coach were still on bikes out there, but the crowds are gone. It’s now you, your body, and some jet black asphalt hills. These miles were hard for me. I was struggling with the ups and downs. I felt like those hills went on forever.

Miles 12-14: 8:03, 7:48, 8:11

Then I hear coach next to me say “you’re on your own now kid” and my first thought was “WTF does that mean?” Then I see the sign saying “no spectators beyond this point.” That was new this year, they actually stopped any and all spectators from like an 8 mile section of the course, even those who had ridden their bikes out there. Totally new this year.

There was a downhill mile and then a painful uphill mile before turning into the Energy lab.

Miles 15,16: 7:55, 8:20

Ahhh, the energy lab. How do we love thee? The run down this year was hard! There was a headwind and I was starting to really feel like a slug with a flat tire. Going down into the NEL was the first time I had this wonderful deep pain in my left quad. I felt like it was trying to break my femur, but I know better than to be swayed by this sort of thing. Just the brain saying “Please stop!”

No thanks, not today!

Mile 17: 7:52 down into the NEL

Down in NEL hell Mile 18: 7:54

I counted girls coming back out of the NEL. I wanted to know what place I was in. I was seeing a lot of 35-39 year old women. That AG was the fiercest it’s ever been this year (right as I’m about to age up…of course…love it!).

I counted, and suffered, counted, and suffered. I was hurting bad, but I was moving forward and really trying to keep the pressure on. The out and back seems to go forever. I counted that I was in 6th place in my AG. 6th, top 5 make the podium and get the fancy bowl. But the hard thing was I took a time split and I was 6 minutes back of 5th. 6 minutes to the podium with 8 miles to go. All the girls ahead looked strong.

Miles 19,20: 8:40, 8:46 back out of the NEL

Climbing out of the NEL takes a bite. I was hailed pretty hard from that climb and just trying to will anything I had left out of me. I was thinking about the 6 minutes and my brain was telling me that it’s never over until it’s over. I had a talk with myself and I decided that if I gave everything I had and never let up for a single second, that maybe, just maybe, something up ahead would happen and I would be presented with the opportunity to race for a bowl.

Miles 21-23: 8:17, 8:05, 8:11

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I was giving everything I had, trying to keep my form in tact. I came back by the “no spectators beyond this point” sign and Coach and Jim were there waiting for me. I was so glad to see them but I was probably in more pain than I have even been in during a race. Everything hurt and it was taking 100% focus to keep the paltry 8:30 pace that I put down those miles. I was falling apart and my mind wanted nothing more than to give more effort to the situation.

Those two miles hurt 24,25: 8:24, 8:28

Once you get to the top of Palani it’s all good from there on in. I ran as hard as I could that entire mile down. I couldn’t wait to get to Ali’i and to see the crowds and the Banyon trees.

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Mile 26: 7:20 Last 0.29: 2:18

That finish line never disappoints and this year was the same. I saw that the clock said 9:54 and I was so happy to get a sub 10 race on this course. No bowl, but sub 10 is awesome. I fought for every inch out there and I took risks. I’m proud of that. I’m starting to understand just how addicting that finish line has become for me. I have high expectations for myself, but that finish line is the one place in the world that I feel successful despite what happened during the last 140.5 miles.

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Big jump at the finish line! Total joy and so happy to have a good jump AND a good finish time on the clock to match.

By the way, a lot of people ask me how I have the energy to jump like that at the end of an Ironman. Well, my friends, the secret is revealed. It’s an optical illusion. If you jump…not very high…but lift your legs up really high…it looks like  you are catching serious air. Try it at your next finish line, you won’t be disappointed!

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The thanks belong first and foremost to my family. My parents Eric and Helen, my husband Troy, and daughter Annie. Thank you for all the sacrifices you  made this year so that I had a chance at redemption. Huge thanks also to Ann for being with us during this journey and part of our family as well as Mikki and Mo for traveling out to see me race. It takes a village!

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Next order of thanks goes out to Muddy. I’ve written about him a few posts ago but he is to thank for what has been a comeback from last year. I asked him for a wing to be under and he’s provided that and more. Also a huge thanks to Jim. He’s like my coach#2 in many ways, just an uber supporter and big brother to me, and I thank Muddy for bringing us together. Also, the Muddy Love guys and gals, you know who you are. Operation Banana baby!

My sponsors have been great this year. Quintana Roo and Mac continue to support me in so many different ways. Amrita gave me so many bars this year I never had to wonder what to eat on the bike, thank you Arshad. Kompetitive Edge has stuck by me for 3 years despite up and down results, and lots of change within the shop. Punk Rock Racing has helped in so many ways as well, Ron keeps me laughing every day. His inspirational texts the week before the race kept me focused on the prize. A huge shout out to Osmo Nutrtion. I bugged them so much they agreed to sponsor me for next year. I can thank Stacy for a successful nutritional day. (The top three American women in my AG: Katie, Me, and Hailey all fuel with Osmo….coincidence….?)

(This was race day after I finished and changed clothes, SUPER HIGH, and Annie looks rested)

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Many thanks to all of you out there. I think about you when I cross a timing mat, and when I write up these reports. I hope that a glimpse through my eyes might give you a little more motivation to take one more step in the direction of leading a healthy happy life.

Swim: 1:07:12, Bike: 5:09:05, Run:3:32:42  Total:9:54:42, 6th AG, 16th Amateur, 39th woman.

Kopi Lani, ran into a legend or two…

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Midnight finish never disappoints

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Kona 2013 Bike

Even onto the bike I was still stressing about the glasses and my bag being gone. My brain was spewing all sorts of crazy stuff. “What if my T2 bag is gone, how am I going to get run shoes” “What if someone took my bag on purpose” “What if that same person let the air out of my tires” …. check tires… nope I’m good…wait am I good…no okay, I’m good. That’s how the brain works, when faced with stress it starts the mental chatter, and if the panic sets in, then rational brain goes out the window. So I developed a plan. When I went by coach I was going to tell him what happened, and then release the event. Tell him and be done with it.

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After doing the Kuakini out and back coach was at the top of Palani and I yelled at him what happened. He asked if I wanted his sunglasses and I said no and rode on. He’s awesome enough to hand me the sunglasses off his head. But my thought was that if I was going to take outside assistance it would be for a pair of shorts…should I need them…I totally released it and didn’t spend one more second thinking about it. Total success.

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Soon enough I was at the airport and it was game on. The airport is right about the time when my power meter threw in the towel. I tell ya, that thing will work in training like no other, but the minute I get in a race it quits. It’s quit 3 out of 4 races. And you can’t try to repair it on the spot because there are a million other power meters present. I was fine with it, I didn’t even care. Not sure why, other than the fact that I quit thinking of it as race reliable some time ago.

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My heart rate was high for my perceived exertion and my eye was swollen and trying to shut on me from swimming half the swim with some salt water in my goggle. I was riding more on the low end of 70.3 effort. Humm, what to do? The tail wind was raging pretty good and after 1 hour I had gone 24 miles. I just decided at that time that I was going to storm the castle. I was going to ride hard. I felt good, the conditions felt good, and there were no clouds over the volcano. Coach had said that wind would be low, so I just stepped it up and went for broke. What they heck, it’s Kona.

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I rode the whole ride at 70.3 effort, or what I THOUGHT was 70.3 effort! This year the course was interesting, almost nobody talked to me, or visa versa. It was very quiet out there. I hit the climb to Hawi and there were no cross winds. It felt like a tail wind. I was riding fast. No cross winds! I think my brain was trying to make sense of it all, I felt like we were getting so lucky out there.

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Once in Hawi I stopped for my special needs bag, grabbed my bottles and got back on the road. Shortly after Andrew passed me. He’s my KE teemate. It spurred me. I know that he and I have similar bike abilities and I really used him as my carrot to keep the pressure on. Coming down from Hawi was actually hard this year, head wind, no cross winds, and pretty hot. I upped my game.

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Through Kawaihai again and we made the turn back onto queen K. Bam!! There she is, the head wind! I went through 70 miles at exactly 3 hours. Holy smokes. 21 mph all the way home and I could have a 5 hour bike split. But the wind got fierce those final miles. I felt really good. It’s the lonely part of the course where you just have to put your head down, keep your watts up and hammer. I went for it. Hard as I could. I’m actually starting to realize that this section is my money part of the course. I usually ride strong all the way home.

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Past the airport with 7 miles to go I start to compute my bike split and I know if I keep the pressure on that sub 5:10 is possible. This keeps me pushing hard. I think I passed Hailey in here somewhere. We exchanged a few words and I was impressed with her positive spirit. She’s such a class act on the race course.

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Into home I was feeling good. I kept saying to myself, I feel good. I know that can change at any point, but I was thankful to not feel as bad as I have in the past. To be honest this ride was so much more of an even effort emotionally. The nutrition changes I made this year really shined in the Kona conditions. It was hotter than normal this year but my fluid intake was right on the money. HAving Osmo Womens Line in my bottles enabled me to drink to my hearts content (27-30 oz per hour) and using real food for the beginning of the bike kept my effort and blood sugar much more steady. No caffeine so far into the day, and I’m feeling strong and under control.

Off the bike and I threw my lovely Quintana Roo Illicito at the bike catchers. See ya baby girl…thanks for not one, but TWO 5:08 bike splits this year! That bike makes me fly! (Edit: just looked and I bike 5:09:05….so there’s that…)

I didn’t for one minute think that my bag wasn’t going to be there. I willed it to be there and sure enough, there it was on the little hook. Whew! I sat down in T2 and actually took a few breaths, calmly put on my stuff and got out of there.

Kona 2013 Swim

OMG I’m such a tease! I had to interrupt race report mayhem to take a quick trip out to Chicago to give a talk at the awards banquet for the Multisport Madness Youth Triathlon Team. Talk about inspiring! These kids are the future of our sport…and I can’t wait to see where they head. Okay…onto the KONA SWIM!

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I was first in the water. I was standing by the entrance when the pro men went off and I was in that water as soon as the Ironman volunteers would let me. I started swimming along the sea wall, looking for Troy. They were way down far this year, due to a later arrival. Usually Troy is there at 4am, but everyone was much more relaxed this year. A nice man named Terry let them encroach on his spot and I found them. I did my waves, and blew my kisses. Everyone was so excited and Mikki, Mo and Mom were there too. Ann and Annie had big smiles and dad was there of course with his big camera lens. Even Mary from IM Brazil and our Amazon trip was there, and it was great to see her huge smile.

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I lined up left of the big orange buoy. This year the outrigger canoes did not come into the athlete section, so there was nothing to hold onto. Some women had found a paddle boarder and there were like 15 people hanging onto that. There was a lot of energy around that board so I just decided I would hang back behind the swimmers and float on my back. That’s what I did, I just floated on my back and looked at the sky, it was very low energy and kept me calm. Before the start, it’s just a painful waiting game, so however you can make it the least painful, the better.

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We all lined up eventually, trying to keep our space, everyone drifted forward despite being yelled at to get back, and boom, off went the cannon.

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The start for me was good. I got in my rhythm pretty quickly. I actually ended up swimming behind a guy with no legs for quite awhile. I noticed that people were more respectful around him after they noticed he didn’t have legs. So he was nice to swim behind because people gave him more berth.

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About half way to the turn I had lost the legless guy and was getting pummeled by a rather big guy. No matter which way I would go he was always the one running back into me. He was really manhandling his way through the crowd and swimming quite strong. After trying to beat on him back a little, I finally realized that I should just swim on his feet and let him blast a path through the crowd. That’s exactly what he did.

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I hit the turn around feeling good, at the second turn buoy I looked at my watch and it said 31. Unfortunately the way back is always slower. Much slower. I swam right of the buoys and spent the whole way back getting yelled at by volunteers on boards. I just held my line. Right is the way to go.

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I felt strong on the way back and swam quite hard the final 7-8 minutes. I hopped up the stairs and saw the clock switch over to 1:07. I was good with this. I haven’t felt great in the water these last few weeks, so this was good and I felt strong the whole way.

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I ran through the hoses and tried to shower off and then ran to get my bag. They have all these hooks they hang your bag on and when I got to my hook, it was empty. No T2 bag. I checked my wrist bracelet to check that I had remembered the right number, and yup, my hook was empty. I told the volunteer “My bag isn’t here”, in response I just got a wide eyed blank look! “MY BAG ISN’T HERE”…. blank look! What can you do???

But then my problem solving kicked in. Go without, it’s just sunglasses. So I bypassed the change tent, found a nice looking lady volunteer and gave her my swim skin, goggles and cap, explained that my bag got taken, told her my number, and off I went.

Running to my bike my brain was like “What if your bike isn’t there?” Isn’t the brain funny?! Of course my bike was there. I put on my helmet and off I went. It was so crowded I had to walk to the mount line. Too little space on that pier for 2,100 athletes. Onto the bike and I was off!

 

Kona 2013 PreRace Mojo

This year Troy had to travel for work the week of Hawaii. When faced with having Annie all by myself in Hawaii I decided to bring our neighbor Ann as a babysitter and helper for the week. This really altered my week. Usually in Kona I like to swim to the coffee boat in the morning with all the other swimmers, and run down Ali’i with all the other runners, eat at Lava Java and have Acai bowls. I meet up with friends from around the world, and it’s like a big social fun fest. This year I did none of that. Muddy and I discussed things and he said very clearly “This is a work trip, you are here to work, not play”. (Best office ever)

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We also had a small one room studio so I didn’t want to leave the girls cooped up for too long. Pre Kona week felt a lot like an average week at home. I was mostly a mom all week, with a little training. Muddy was with me for all my training sessions in Kona, so we would wake up and get things done while the girls were sleeping in and making themselves breakfast, then I was free to go be mom the rest of the day. I’ll tell you, if you do things this way and you do your sessions at non-common times of day, the island and Kona actually feels pretty quiet. Go swim at 2pm, you’ll pass like 3 people out there, you’ll hardly know there is an Ironman in town. Run on Ali’i during the underwear run…dead quiet. After 3 previous years of running around in the circus, it was refreshing. (My athletes Mikki and Mo came to Hawaii to cheer for me this year, and that added yet another layer of home to the big island)

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Coach also wanted me off social media. I admit, this was quite hard. I love me some Twitter and Facebook, but every time I logged in everyone was swimming to the coffee boat, running down Ali’i or eating at Lava Java. I was here for work, so I turned it all off. I would ask the girls what they wanted to do, and we would go do it.

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Tuesday “girls choice” took us to the beach, and swim suit shopping, Wednesday we ate at Annie’s (since both the girls are nicknamed Annie) and then to Captain Cook, in a kayak, in the middle of a pod of 80+ jumping dolphins.

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Thursday the girls had to endure a drive of the bike course but then were treated to ice cream in Hawi and new knitting supplies and more beach time with turtles. Friday Troy was finally here and the girls went off with my parents for paddle boarding, beach time, pool time and sunglass shopping. These girls lived it up!

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By the time race day rolled around for me, I was really energetic. I didn’t over think anything. I didn’t get hyped up over anything. I was calm, and ready, and honestly didn’t spend much time on race week thinking about the race. I didn’t write a race plan (first time ever). It took me about 5 minutes to pack my bags for bike check-in. Everything was really simple and slimed down to the basics. No extras, just what I needed to execute my plan.

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T1 bag – Sunglasses (helmet and shoes on the bike)

T2 bag – Shoes, socks, race number, PxRx run hat, Fuel Belt (with 2×10 oz Osmo women’s formula, 2 bags of chews, a tiny ziplock of Imodium, $20)

Special Needs Bike – 3 frozen 25oz bottles of Osmo, 2 bags of chews

Special Needs Run – 1 bag chews

Morning Bag – swim skin, Slik, goggles, cap, 3 frozen 25oz bottles for bike, 2 Amrita Bars for bike, 3 bags Honey stinger Chews for bike, white bread sandwich for before the race, bottle of Osmo to sip, spare clothes for after the race, cell phone.

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After last year in Hawaii my mom and I talked a lot about what I could have done to have the potty situation not ruin my race. I did a lot of brainstorming and came up with lots of ideas. Mom was in the camp of “assume it’s going to happen, and plan for it”. I love my mom, she’s genius. My main problem last year was that I felt disgusting, I smelled disgusting, and that was demoralizing. Once demoralized in Ironman, it’s really hard to break out of it. The fight or flight response had degraded into the curl up in a little ball and wait to get eaten response. I took moms advise big time, and I read a lot of books this year about the mental side of sport, and overcoming adversity. I talked to a lot of people, I did a lot of google searches for “What to do when you poop in Ironman”.

I learned that every experience we have is automatically assigned a threat level by our brain. This threat level dictates where out brain sends blood. High threat level and your brain goes into automatic response mode and shuts off the blood to calm rational thinking mode. Think about what happens when you are about to get into a car accident, you don’t rationally think, you act, and quick. That’s a blood flow to different parts of the brain situation.

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When thinking about last year I thought long and hard about why I didn’t trouble solve the poop situation better. Why didn’t I ask for shorts, or stop at an ABC store and get baby wipes? Why wasn’t I asking my family to help with the situation so that I could take 5 or 10 minutes to solve my problem, and avoid slowing down by 40 and dealing with a death march the rest of the race. Why?

Threat level! The pressure I felt last year to have a flawless race was huge. When things went south my ego was crushed. “This again” “I’m disgusting” The emotional response I had was devastating and my brain assigned it a high threat level. I was emotionally crushed. That was not going to happen this year. So I “PRE-Problem Solved”. (Roger and Mary from IM Brazil, Roger is 70, can’t tell, can you?)

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Every single person I knew on the course who asked me in the days and weeks before if they could help me out had a pair of run shorts in their bag. There were like 6 different pairs of emergency run shorts on that course for me. I know it’s outside assistance, but when you’ve pooped yourself…I consider it more of a sanitary situation. I’ll take the penalty if need be.

I completely reworked my nutrition this year. I found the culprit of last year, and my nutrition was tested in 70.3 races, Ironman races, and training sessions in various temperature conditions. My nutrition plan was the most bomber and pre-tested I’ve ever had. Thank you Stacy Sims and the art of experimentation.

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I had Imodium in my pocket, something I just hadn’t been smart enough to use in the past. I had $20 in case I needed to visit an ABC store for help. I knew where the outside beach showers were on the course. And lastly, I practiced envisioning what I would say to myself if something happened. I mentally walked through a script I had prepared. Let’s just say….I was READY to shit myself out there. Bring it on.

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And can I just say…I learned so much going through that process. It’s almost cliche to say that you learn more from the bad races than the good ones, but it’s true. If you are willing to work on what didn’t work you truly can use bad races to launch yourself into good ones. I learned so much more than just how to solve the poo problem. I learned about the mental game, problem solving, visualization, women’s nutrition, laxatives, and much more.

So, as race day rolled around, I felt armed. I felt prepared on many different levels. I felt like Kona was just any other race that I was suiting up for and my head was not sensing Kona as a high threat level. Muddy had told me all year “You can’t disappoint me” and I knew it was true, there was no pressure from him. My parents and Troy were already having so much fun and they were ready for whatever kind of race I had. Failure was totally an okay option this year. I was prepared with new mental dialogues. I was prepared to problem solve and I had tools to take the threat level of different experiences down a notch so I could think rationally.

On race morning I did everything I needed to and went and found coach. We sat on a bench and there was nothing left to say. He got teary and gave me a big hug and I said “We’re gonna be fine coach” and off I went.

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Here We Go

It’s been radio silence on this blog since Vegas! Let’s get this party started!

Where does a girl even start? How to begin? Let’s go way back. About a year, actually, exactly a year ago. I was sitting on the airplane home from Hawaii, an Alaska flight from Kona to San Jose . My body was sore, but not as sore as I had hoped. I was trying to process my race, the many bathroom stops, the frustration with my first Ironman in 8 that had gone totally south. Sitting 15 rows ahead of me was someone I recognized. The man with the dark brown ponytail and wise kind eyes. I had read several articles about him through the years, he always stuck in my head because he lives and coaches in San Jose and that’s where my parents live. Muddy Waters.

I turned to Troy and said, “I’m gonna go introduce myself”

Troys eyes got wide.

So, at a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, I met the last coach I will ever hire.

Fast forward 360 days, two amateur titles later at St.George 70.3 and Ironman Brazil, a new Ironman PR of 9:50, 10th place amateur at Vegas World Championships. The plane has just touched down in Kona, and that same man with the ponytail turns around in his seat as the planes precious cargo cheers and looks me straight in the eye with a huge smile. We both know the significance. A year later, he has taken the broken down sad little puppy he met on the plane, and turned her into someone who was so ready to throw down everything she had on the lava fields. Not only was she emotionally ready, but physically as well.

hawaii

Folks, there is no substitute for hard work. It takes a lot of work to make it to Ironman Hawaii four times in a row. But I know how to work. The changes that have happened this last year have been about so much more than that. Back a year ago when Muddy asked me what I needed, I told him I needed a wing. A wing? Yes. I know how to train hard, I will work my ass off for anyone, but what I needed was someone who would believe in me and my potential, who had my best interests at heart, I needed a wing to be under.

muddy

This year Muddy gave me a wing, he gave me an umbrella, like a BIG umbrella. He gave me his support and he put me in a community that tucked me right in the middle and took care of me like no other. A huge group of boys that pushed me like no other, treated me like their kid sister, and in the end, made my heart fill with joy as they all competed in Ironman Tahoe with glowing success.

crew

The story of my Ironman Kona this year is about so much more than 9:54 on the worlds toughest Ironman stage. It’s about a phenomenal coach, a phenomenal group of guys, and my ever ready family support system.

The race was hard, it’s always hard, but I had tools this year like no other. I put the process in the hands of Mud and it was enlightening. I’ve never been so excited about triathlon in my life!